A lovely atmosphere met with large portions and delicious flavors make Restaurante Don Porfi a longstanding favorite in Turrialba. The owner is a gregarious gent named Sergio, who may have more than a little something to do with this place's popularity, as he's been known to help diners make tour arrangements as well as suggest the best glass of wine to match their meal. There's rarely a crowd, so reservations are suggested but not always necessary. Finding this place is easy, just ask a taxi to take you there since it's a couple of miles north of the town center.
Recommended for Lunch because: Don Porfi's has an old-school family-style vibe that's inviting for kids and special occasions.
Sophia's expert tip: This is a delightful choice for a memorable group or family meal to celebrate a visit to Turrialba.
For excellent seafood, La Fuente is the place. Overlooking a busy parking lot and highway, it's perhaps not where one may expect to find delicious ceviche and stand out langosta (lobster) but indeed it is. The inside is so small you'll be rubbing shoulders with the wait staff and bartender, but the outside tables are accommodating enough, and once the food arrives, it won't matter that there are no candles or fancy tablecloths. Though seafood is clearly the specialty, the menu includes a fine selection of other options, from filet mignon to cheeseburgers, everyone can find something to feast on here. Portions are generous and if it takes awhile for your plate to arrive, all the more time to work up an appetite to savor the flavors that won't disappoint. And, there is a full bar.
Bread and Chocolate has become a landmark cafe in Puerto Viejo, and for good(ies) reason. Locals and tourists enjoy gathering to partake in some wholesome breakfasts, lunches, and signature baked goods here, which include handmade truffles, delectable brownies, and scrumptious muffins. There are only a handful of tables on the raised deck just off the main road in the center of town, but even when there's a full house it just seems cozy rather than crowded. Coffee is served in individual French presses, and everything is made fresh right there in the busy kitchen that Tom oversees. Bread and Chocolate is open from 6:30am to 6:30pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 6:30 to 2:30 on Sundays (closed Mondays). It's also cash only.
Recommended for Lunch because: Homemade bread and sweet chocolate treats crafted from local cacao enhance this already top-notch lunch spot.
Sophia's expert tip: Bread and Chocolate can custom make beautiful cakes for special occasions.
The menu at La Luz is quite diverse, afterall it was one of the country's first fusion restaurants, and still impresses with an eclectic menu of diverse tastes; the expert chef pays close attention to detail and every plate is served like a work of art. Costa Rican regional cuisine, meets California-inspired fresh ingredients and a bevy of international influences that all make for a merry culinary adventure. The glass-walled dining room exudes a classic, elegant feel and offers exceptional views, especially at night. Sunday Brunch is a celebratory affair that draws crowds of locals and tourists to this spot in the Alta Hotel, and reservations are suggested.
Recommended for Lunch because: Considered one of the best restaurants in Costa Rica by Conde Naste, La Luz is indeed a fine place to dine for lunch.
Sophia's expert tip: For a special occasion, book the private wine room, or opt for patio or poolside dining.
La Casona del Cafetal is a restaurant and event destination located amidst a sprawling coffee farm, offering excellent cuisine and sweeping views of its lushly planted grounds, complete with a glistening lake, Lago de Cachi. The ambience alone makes La Casona del Cafetal an ideal choice for romantic dinners and special occasions, especially weddings and anniversaries because of its romantic setting, and since it can accommodate up to 300 guests at once, it is often booked in advance. For the casual diner, however, there is a bright and airy dining room and chef-served buffet tables heaped high with international cuisine cooked to perfection.
Recommended for Lunch because: Chef-served buffets boast Costa Rican favorites and international specialties with something for everyone.
Sophia's expert tip: Stroll the trails that lead down to the lake side before or after your meal.
La Criollita is an excellent place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and has something on the menu for everyone. The fare is traditional Costa Rican; generous portions of meat, chicken and fish with rice, beans and salad on the side, and big selection of delicious appetizers like Tico-style ceviche and a tasty chicken soup to whet the appetite. There are three dining spaces, a main room that overlooks the big and busy kitchen, a bright and airy side room with art-filled walls, and a charming covered outdoor terrace with a bird garden and wrought iron furniture. There is rarely a wait for a table, but lunch time fills up early with nearby business people, so breakfast and dinner are ideal for settling into a relaxing meal. The coffee is excellent, too,save room for dessert; checkout the options like flan and cheesecake on display under the glass on your way in. Bonus: Full Bar.
What started as a simple hotel caf� has expanded to become one of the country's finest restaurants with well-earned reputation. Casually elegant, this restaurant is situated off the Grano de Oro Hotel's central courtyard which provides for pleasant seating options on cooperative days. A Frech chef is behind the European menu has Costa Rican influences and changes regularly, featuring seafood, beef, chicken and vegetable offerings. If it's available on your visit, try the macadamia-encrusted covina or the Gorgonzola-stuffed filet mignon, but truly whatever you choose will shine. And most certainly make room for dessert as the offerings here are scrumptious.
Recommended for Lunch because: This restaurant is an oasis of French infused cuisine in the heart of a beautiful boutique hotel.
Sophia's expert tip: Excellent place for a special occasion dinner or a very memorable date.
Pan Pay is Puerto Viejo's most popular spot for locals; here is where everyone comes for coffee, croissants, baguettes for later, and to catch up with the neighbors- and if there's a soccer game on, you can watch it here. Located in a casual open air spot adjacent to the police station, many of the tables outside have a view of the water. The prices for breakfast and lunch are the lowest in town and you get plenty of bang for your buck. Owned by two Spanish brothers who take baking seriously, the glass display is brimming with goodies that are hard to resist. Pan Pay opens at 7 but closes in the late afternoon, and everything on the menu is good.
Recommended for Lunch because: Sandwiches made with fresh baked baguettes are perfect for picnic lunches on the beach.
Sophia's expert tip: Fresh baguettes are baked here every morning.
Cartago's very history is visible in enlarged vintage photographs on display throughout this restaurant, enlightening guests to the town's rich history, highlighted by the earthquake of 1910 that nearly demolished the town of Cartago and most of its residents. The menu at Restaurant 1910 is full of classic Costa Rican dishes like the cheese tortillas and the chorreadas prepared with sweet locally harvested corn. There are piping hot bowls of olla de carne, generous platters heaping with chicken breasts, rice, beans and fried plantains. A well-chosen wine selection is an added bonus. Restaurante 1910 is open Monday to Thursday from 11:30 AM to 9 PM, Friday and Saturday from 11:30 AM to 10:00 PM, Sunday from 11:30 AM to 6:30 PM.
Perched on the edge of the coral reef overlooking the beautiful coast of Cahuita, Sobre las Olas is a perfect little restaurant that has excellent food to match its ambience. The best seats are outside nestled between the palm trees, where mussels on the half shell and ceviche are fine appetizers to get you in the mood for an excellent meal. Italian owners have created a menu with the home country's influence but focused on fresh local ingredients and expertly prepared seafood. If you haven't happened upon it while visiting Cahuita, it's worth asking to be pointed in the right direction and is a pleasant stroll just north of town. Bonus: There is a full bar here, too.
Recommended for Lunch because: A waterfront view of the Caribbean and delicious mussels make for a memorable meal.
Sophia's expert tip: Dine before sunset and opt for a table on the sand outside.